Category Archives: Third Year – The Middle Age Phenomenon

An amalgam of bittersweet experiences and Ward-time masti.

2012 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 6,400 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 11 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

 

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Reign in the red monster

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 By Farkhanda Qaiser

As the fasting month progressively moves to hotter weather over the years, one’s patience is tested to the maximum. Reigning in your anger at the traffic jam especially when your car AC is out of order; cursing the university authorities for not giving you vacations in Ramzan and further deteriorating matters by keeping half a dozen tests in just two weeks and last but not the least fasting in this intense heat with cruel load shedding hours proves to be the last nail in the coffin for any sane person.

In such a scenario, it becomes pretty easy to get into arguments even with the tamest of people you come across. After having had my share of arguments in this month, I decided to find a remedy. Luckily my father happens to be reading a self-help type of book these days called, ‘The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking’ by Dale Carnegie. So I just flipped through its pages until I found what I was looking for.

In a chapter titled ‘Get a Yes-Response,’ Mr. Carnegie explains how to win an argument. He says ‘It is much more advantageous to begin by stressing something that you and all of your hearers believe, and then to raise some pertinent question that everyone would like to have answered. Then take your audience with you in an earnest search for the answer. While on that search, present the facts as you see them so clearly that they be led to accept your conclusions as their own. They will have much more faith in some truth that they have discovered for themselves. The best argument is that which seems merely an explanation.’

Even though the context of this paragraph is different because the author is illustrating how an orator can mesmerize his audience into believing what he wants but the essence remains the same. This essence is that of finding a common ground of agreement with those who differ with you. Mr. Carnegie further goes on to demonstrate with an example:

On February 3, 1960, the prime minister of Great Britain, Harold Macmillan, addressed both houses of Parliament of the Union of South Africa. He had to present the United Kingdom’s non-racial viewpoint before the legislature body at a time when apartheid was the prevailing policy. Did he begin his talk with this essential difference in outlook? No. He began by stressing the great economic progress made by South Africa, the significant contributions made by South Africa to the world. Then, with skill and tact he brought up the questions of differing viewpoints. Even here, he indicated he was well aware that these differences were based on sincere conviction. His whole talk was a masterly statement reminding one of Lincoln’s gentle but firm utterances in the years before Fort Sunter. “As a fellow member of the Commonwealth,” said the Prime Minister, “it is our earnest desire to give South Africa our support and encouragement, but I hope you won’t mind my saying frankly that there are some aspects of your policies which make it impossible for us to do this without being false to our deep convictions about the political destinies of free men to which in our own territories we are trying to give effect. I think we ought as friends to face together, without seeking to apportion credit or blame, the fact that in the world of today this difference of outlook lies between us”

No matter how determined one was to differ with a speaker, a statement like that would tend to convince you of the speaker’s fair mindedness.

So you see how you can put across your conflicting perspective in such a way that it doesn’t seem conflicting anymore. Let’s see an example closer to home to understand this concept better. These days we see many people who either don’t fast or fast but don’t offer prayers regularly due to a multitude of reasons. Topping the list is the simmering heat. How would you reason with these people? One common way is by reminding them of the burning heat of the Hellfire – manifold in intensity to this worldly heat. While this tactic may achieve the desired result in some cases but could worsen matters in others. So what manner of speaking should you adopt then?

Well how about beginning with the blessings of the Holy month of Ramzan?  The fact that all prayers and good deeds are rewarded much more than in any other time of the year. Compounded with this the huge bonus that Satan has been chained behind bars so cannot mislead us to do wrong.  Thus we have been facilitated to proceed in the right direction. Why should we not avail this opportunity to the fullest? This is our opportunity to train ourselves to exercise self-control whether it is by restraining the urge to eat and drink despite those hunger pangs or by softening our words when we feel like yelling at our subordinates or colleagues.Most importantly, we must learn to reign in that red monster of anger because doing so would save a lot of trouble. Therefore Ramzan is the time for rewards and training in mock battleground without the actual enemy (Satan) marching against us.  Fasting in this month will help us in our training while offering prayers will discipline us for our future life as well.

When you present the explanation in such a manner, your listener will definitely be forced to re-think his approach to the concept of fasting. He’d realize that fasting is not just about starving rather it’s a complete institution meant for schooling the deluded Nafs. And he’d even be compelled to benefit from this bounty.

Moreover, this blessed month is also the prime time to offer repentance for the past sins and vow to correct the wrong doings. Particularly in the last ashra and specifically on the Laila tul Qadr (The Night of Blessing – when the Holy Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him).

If we are able to collect even an iota of the blessings of this month then we are indeed successful. But remember RTR – Rewards, training and repentance…! Make sure you don’t miss out on any of them. And remember me in your prayers as well.

Happy Ramzan to Everyone…!

Aftermath of Doctors’ strike

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By Farkhanda Qaiser

“Baji aap ko tu mehanga kapra dunga main…!” The shopkeeper said maliciously.

“Hain Bhai sahib? Magar kyun?” The lady was bewildered.

“Kyunki aap doctor hain…!” came the reply.

This incident occurred recently with a friend’s aunt who happens to be a dentist-turned-housewife. And I fear more such incidents as an aftermath to the young doctors’ strike and the successful negative propaganda by Punjab Government. (I call it successful because it achieved its desired result – turning majority of the civil society against doctors).

However the matter is not so simple. It will have long-term effects. This defaming media hype has created a trust deficit between the physician and the patient. The patients have been made to believe that doctors of today are purely greedy souls who would go to any limit for their pay hikes. When in fact, the truth is quite different. The issue is not about increasing salaries rather it’s about job security via a proper service structure. It’s about diminishing bureaucratic and political influence from the induction, promotion and transfers of doctors. This measure would ensure the promotion of merit as opposed to a ‘sifarish culture’ which is prevalent in our society at present. Hence, the opposition from the Punjab Government can be explained by this simple fact.

Nevertheless the sacred trust that exists between a physician and his patient must be preserved at all costs. So now it is our responsibility to bring back that lost faith. Or else we could suffer a similar fate as that of Indian doctors.

Yes, our Indian counterparts have also resorted to strikes countless times. Theirs had been an old story spreading over the course of almost 10 years. The demands were – pay hike and time-bound promotions. The response of their government was very similar to that of Punjab Government but minus the brutal crackdown i.e. appointment of ad-hoc doctors and adoption of delaying tactics to sabotage the just demands of doctors. However the public reaction was very alarming. There were innumerable cases of assaults on doctors along with token-protests by social organizations like Gujars and trade associations of Rajasthan.

Let’s hope the situation doesn’t get this bad in Pakistan.

Inside the Lahore High Court (2)

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By Farkhanda Qaiser

For the first few minutes, we couldn’t understand what was going on in the court room. There was a lot of hustle and bustle, because more doctors kept pouring in.

As there was no more seating space so they stood in front of us. This greatly hampered our view so we decided to get up from our chairs and move ahead. This proved to be a more tedious job than I had expected. After several ‘Excuse mes’ and ‘Sorrys’ I finally reached at a place where I could see the face of the Judge and hear someone speaking. The voice was very sober and confident. It was presenting arguments in favor of the Punjab Government. Therefore I guessed it to be that of Additional Advocate General, Mr. Faisal Zaman. He was pleading the court to close the case as doctors had called off the strike so there was nothing left to argue on.

At that time, another voice intervened saying that there were still four doctors behind bars who had been falsely booked under Section 302 of PPC in connection with the death of a child at a government hospital. I tried to guess this low-pitched and restrained voice. As I had been avidly following talk shows and press conferences regarding doctors’ issue for the last many days, so I was well acquainted with the faces of prominent members of YDA (Young Doctors’ Association) Punjab. However in this packed crowd, I stood no chance of seeing the faces of the people who were talking, especially because some 6-feet tall doctors wearing black armbands were standing right in front of me. One of them even held an ‘Ophthalmology’ book. This sight assured me that doctors and books are kind of inseparable even when these doctors are striking and attending a hearing in a courtroom. Wow this is called dedication. *salutes*

Coming back to the unknown voice which was pleading the doctors’ case. After listening to it for a couple of more minutes, I concluded that this voice seemed to resemble that of Dr. Nasir Abbas – the General Secretary of YDA Punjab.

Here someone intruded declaring that no application had been submitted regarding the bail petition of the doctors in lock-up; so this matter could not be discussed in court. Therefore, the revered Judge ordered Raja Zulqarnain – the lawyer of doctors– to submit the relevant documents immediately.

Then the Dr-Nasir-Abbas-voice implored the court to provide justice to his fellow doctors without any undue delay. To this, the Honorable Judge replied that the court would make sure that no one’s liberty is impinged illegally. He repeatedly assured the doctors that no injustice would be done to them. Further he said that the bail petition would be heard later in the day after the required documents had been completed.

With this, the short hearing came to an end and also the guess-the-voice game I had been playing all throughout.

As the people slowly started to move out of the congested space, I caught a glimpse of the President YDA – Dr Hamid Butt, who was in deep conversation with some other doctors.

I also saw Dr. Izhar Chaudhry, who represents Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) and is an Anatomy demonstrator at King Edward Medical University. He taught us the Upper Limb region in first year and was an excellent teacher. I wanted to meet up with him but lost him in the crowd and did not catch sight of him again.

As I was moving out, I spotted a young female lawyer dressed in white shalwar kameez and a black coat (yes, she was wearing a coat even in this severe heat). She had warm eyes and looked much harried for some reason. I don’t know why but I asked her a very simple question.

“What will happen now?” I asked – referring obviously to the YDA case.

She looked up from the pile of papers in her hands. At first agitated at being disturbed; but then perhaps she noticed my anxious expression and her voice softened,

“Don’t worry. All will be fine. Your case will be heard in the afternoon.” She comforted me.

And weird as it may sound, this stranger had managed to comfort me.

At that moment, it struck me that after all doctors and lawyers were not much different. If the job of one was to treat the physical wounds of their patients then the other solved the material problems of their clients. Both cajoled and soothed their subjects. Their methods may be dissimilar but their intent was the same – to cause well-being of people.

With this thought, I exited the courtroom of Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan. Outside, the narrow corridor was filled with groups of doctors chatting away and discussing their next strategy. Most of them were of the view that they would stay back till the next hearing. Some female House Officers had decided to visit the canteen to pass their time. Others were still discussing the case. They sounded very hopeful and trusted the superior judiciary to give a fair verdict.

As I moved out to the vast ground, I noticed two familiar faces so I went to greet them. They were PGs (post graduates) from the South Medicine Ward of Mayo Hospital. Having just arrived, they were clueless about the proceedings of the case so they asked me for details which I duly provided them.

After that I saw a huge group of doctors clad in their overalls standing in the middle of the ground. Some of the leader-doctors were addressing them. One of them was Dr. Amir Bandesha – President YDA PIC (Punjab Institute of Cardiology). After he had finished talking, I stepped forward. At that time, he caught sight of me and guessed that I wanted to say something. So he alighted from the stairs and came to stand in front of me. This simple gesture really moved me. It showed that the YDA leaders were very concerned about the opinions of their fellow doctors.

I asked him about the future strategy of YDA. Replying to which he said, at present they were primarily concerned about the release of their innocent colleagues. Following which they would resume their struggle for the demand of a proper service structure for doctors. Then it was time for me to leave so I thanked Dr. Bandesha for hearing me out and headed towards the gate of Lahore High Court.

Overall, this had been a great experience with a positive outcome which was announced later in the day. Yes the four doctors were released on bail and were given a very warm welcome by their colleagues.

Inside the Lahore High Court (1)

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By Farkhanda Qaiser

After having seen huge courtrooms in dramas and movies, I expected the Lahore High Court to be much like that. However I was in for alot of surprises when I entered this place for the first time in my life today. The occasion was the hearing of the YDA (Young Doctors’ Association) case in Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan’s court.

Lahore High Court

Despite the fact that I reached the courtroom as early as 9 AM, it was jam packed. Mostly the audience consisted of young doctors wearing their white overalls whereas lawyers struggled to find a vacant seat in this vibrant crowd. The room itself was a very small one with only 3 rows of chairs at the back for the audience so most of the people were standing shoulder to shoulder in the immense heat of July. In the center was a round table with chairs for the lawyers whose cases were to be heard that day. The table was littered with piles of legal documents and law books. And in the front of this all was the podium on which the Esteemed Judge was to take his place anytime soon. We were all waiting with abated breaths for the case to start. Some of the House Officers sitting with me were from Ganga Ram Hospital and were very vociferous about their support for YDA. Being a Third Year medical student, I probably was the youngest observer in that courtroom. However my spirits were quite high and I was very excited about this little ‘adventure’ of mine.

While we were still discussing the doctors’ strike and the Punjab government’s unprecedented brutal crackdown, suddenly the lawyers sitting in front of us rose up from their seats. As we were quite unaware about the protocol of a courtroom so we were very surprised at this gesture. Then we realized that the Respected Judge had arrived and the lawyers were showing their respect by giving him a standing ovation. Somehow it reminded me of my school days when we used to stand up just like this on the arrival of our teachers to classrooms. But now the scenario was diametrically opposite. The students had been replaced by well-versed solicitors and the teacher was the Judge in whose hands lay the decision of many lives and deaths.

Once the Honorable Judge was seated, the official proceedings started…

To be Continued…